How to File for Divorce in Puerto Rico

By Catlin Tidwell
You can file for a divorce with the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico.

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Sometimes, the only answer to an uncomfortable or unworkable marriage is divorce. The divorce process in Puerto Rico is similar to the divorce process in other American states and territories. Once you have determined that you are eligible to file for divorce in Puerto Rico, the hardest part will likely be filing paperwork and paying for a lawyer.

To file for divorce, you must have lived in Puerto Rico for at least a year. If you haven't, you will have to wait or prove that one spouse has committed an action in Puerto Rico that is grounds for divorce in Puerto Rico. Grounds for divorce include adultery, felony conviction, abuse, being a drunk or drug addict, abandonment, incurable impotence and attempts to corrupt or prostitute your children.

Determine whether you will need or want a lawyer. If you will file for a simple divorce, you can order the forms you need and file them yourself. If you have children, will request alimony or have a complicated financial situation, you will most likely need or want a lawyer. The process of filing your own divorce is referred to as filing "pro se." Because legal filings can be complex, if you intend to file pro se, consider investing in a software package designed to advise you on the proper forms and filing requirements for your situation. The U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico does not provide legal forms or advice.

If you need a lawyer, look for one with experience with divorces in Puerto Rico. Ask for recommendations, or contact the Puerto Rican Bar Association, www.prba.net, for help.

File your divorce petition with the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico. If you hired a lawyer, your lawyer will file the petition for you.

Have your petition served on your spouse. You may be able to serve the papers yourself, or you may need to hire a professional process server. Your spouse typically has 30 days to respond, after which you may request a default judgment to continue the divorce process.

Wait for your court hearing, if a court hearing is necessary. If your spouse does not agree to divorce, if you have complicated financial assets or children, or if one spouse requests alimony, you will need a hearing before a judge before divorce will be granted.

Receive your divorce decree. Once your divorce has been granted, you must agree by the terms of your divorce decree to divide assets and child custody, or else you may be called before a judge.

About the Author

Based in Seattle, Catlin Tidwell has been writing professionally since 1999. Her articles have appeared on websites and for professional blogs. Tidwell is a certified usability analyst, an experienced technical writer and a published short story author. She earned a Master of Arts in International Studies from the University of Washington.

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